Apple iPhone 4S: What's In It For You vs iPhone 4? - HotHardware

Apple iPhone 4S: What's In It For You vs iPhone 4?

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Without a doubt, the built-in camera is one of my favorite features of the iPhone 4S. Apple didn't just bump up the number of megapixels from 5MP to 8MP, it also outfitted the iPhone 4S with all-new optics and an extra lens. It uses a larger F/2.4 aperture to let more light through, and the end result is you can can snap larger, better looking photos in almost all lighting conditions. The difference in picture quality compared to the iPhone 4 and other smartphones is especially noticeable in low light photo shoots.


It also loads fast. From tap to snap, it took me 1.7 seconds to load the camera and take a picture. Repeating the same test on my Droid X2 took 3.7 seconds. That doesn't sound like much, but when a spur of the moment photo opportunity presents itself, 2 seconds can mean the difference between getting the shot you want and not getting one at all.

As I previously mentioned, the the Volume Up button can now be used as a shutter button. On the software side, there's a built-in grid you can turn on to help follow the rule of thirds if you fancy yourself a professional photo guru in the making. There's also an HDR function, and the ability to perform basic edits, like crop and quick color enhancements.

   
   
Left: Original Shots, Right: HDR Enhanced

If you enable the HDR function on the iPhone 4S, it will capture three photos at different exposure levels, layer the shots together, and create a single photo. By default, the iPhone also saves an original image along with the HDR photo in the Camera Roll so you can compare the two.

The HDR function works fairly well, though it's not always the better option. You really need good lighting to take advantage of the HDR feature, something I'm in short supply of here in the midwest (Michigan, in case you're wondering). In the photos above, the left are the originals and the right are HDR captures. Other than resizing for the web, no post processing was performed on any of the images.

1080p HD Video Footage:


Apple also upgraded the video capabilities of the iPhone, which is now able to record in Full HD 1080p. Videos further benefit from image stabilization and temporal noise reduction technologies, both included in the iPhone 4S. The clip above shows fast moving traffic on a rainy, overcast day.



Apple's "Let's Talk iPhone" served as the launchpad for both the iPhone 4S and iOS 5. I'm not going to cover all the finer points of Apple's latest and greatest mobile OS -- there are over 200 feature additions -- but there are some points worth mentioning. Keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, these features also apply to the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, and iPad 2.

One of my favorites is the Notification Center. It offers a pull-down curtain view of all your notifications, a feature that's old hat to Android, and one Apple was wise to emulate. I could do without the stock ticker, which I was able to disable in Settings > Notifications > Stock Widget.

Another feature I'm excited about is tabbed browsing in Safari. This is something that's old hat to everyone, and it's about time Apple included it here. I'm also enjoying Safari Reader, which cuts out the clutter and displays a website's main article in a more friendly manner.



There are three things that set the iPhone 4S apart from its predecessor. We've covered two of them already -- the dual-core processor and much improved camera optics -- and the third is Siri. When I watched Apple's promotional video for Siri, I thought, "Wow, that's really cool, but I bet it sucks. There's no way this thing works as advertised." I was wrong.

Some of you are already familiar with Siri. Prior to the iPhone 4S, a less awesome version of Siri was available in the App Store, one that didn't always work right. Apple pulled the app and integrated an improved version into the iPhone 4S, and it's truly an amazing piece of technology. Here's an example of how one of my exchanges went:
Me: Is there a Red Lobster nearby?
Siri: Ok, here's Red Lobster; it looks pretty close to you. (Siri pinpoints Red Lobster's location on a map)
Me: Hmm, how about any other seafood restaurants?
Siri: I found 4 seafood restaurants fairly close to you. (Siri lists them starting with the closest one)
Me: Actually, I think I'm in the mood for steak.
Siri: I found 4 steak restaurants fairly close to you.
Me: Send a message to Tammy and tell her to meet me at Great Steak.
Siri: Here's your message to Tammy. Ready to send it?
Me. Yes.
This is a basic example; Siri's capable of a whole lot more. She's also a little sassy from time to time, and almost always accommodating. She's also able to connect the dots while keeping you out of trouble. Tell her you need to hire a prostitute, for example, and she'll let you know about any local escort services rather than directing you to the Red Light District. She responds to things like, "Beam me up, Scotty!" and once the novelty of trying to discover Easter eggs wears off, you're left with a useful piece of technology that can send text messages, set reminders, schedule meetings, and more.

* Editor's Note: This staff at HotHardware does not condone Paul's sinful ways.

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Although I'm not into Apple, Siri is pretty awesome (which is why Apple bought it).

Here are a few more interesting ones to try

* I need to hide a body

* What are you wearing

* Call me an ambulance

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"...it won't change the world in the same fashion that the original iPhone did back in 1997"

Wow, 1997, eh? Heh, I think you got the wrong decade there.

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yeah, just a small typo there. corrected, sorry

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So is it worth it to pay an extra $100 for the 4s instead of the 4?

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In my opinion, yes. Faster, more capable processor, an improved camera that takes noticeably better photos and videos, and Siri are worth ponying up an extra Benjamin, especially when you consider this is a two-year commitment you're making.

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I think Apple certainly upgraded the hardware in this phone nicely. From what I have heard Siri is super nice at least when it works. I also think their iPhone 5 was not going to be ready in time before they started losing market share and so this is supposed to be an interim fix for them.

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It is a nice phone and all, but im still going to get me an S2 :). If ur choosing from 4 and 4s, just go for the 4s.

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News:
 * Editor's Note: This staff at HotHardware does not condone Paul's sinful ways.

"Another top notch review from Paul, love the humor. I'm happy with the review and also looking forward to owning the 4S. Siri is a feature I'm anxiously wanting to try out, and the better photo quality and 1080P recording is must have for me because I admire the do it all type of device thats easy to carry. One thing I don't agree is the 3.5 inch screen being a negative, as I feel its generous, but off course I understand since you were spoiled by the Droid X2 4.3 screen. Great Review." 

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Thanks for the kind words OptimusPrimeTime!

Regarding the screen size, I actually agree that it's not necessarily a negative point, especially in terms of portability. The reason it's listed as one is because there are certain things that benefit from a larger display, like watching Netflix and playing games. It didn't take me long to get used to the 3.5-inch screen, though.

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"Understood, good point as well. Paul a quick question about Siri, is it set up to only recognize the owners voice only or can anyone access it by merely talking to it. I ask because I thought up two situations."

"Lets start on a light note, what if I was sitting next  to a really attractive fine lady on the train and she has the 4S with Siri enabled.  What if i 'm just shy that day or just a jerk, and I apply slick , lowdown move , and ask, her Siri, *What's my phone number , I forgot" boom, Siri lets it out. Could that theoretically happen?"

"Now, a serious situation. What if a person with a young child,  that owns a 4S, gets into a car accident,  and the person driving is knocked unconscious, is in serious trouble, but the child is fine. Can Siri be trained or programmed to recognize other voices that the owner set, thus, enabling the child to say to Siri to *Call 911, Emergency * ."

"Again, two scenarios, one creepy that may infringe on you privacy , the other a life threatening situation . Just curious as to how advance is Siri is, and in a emergency situation , can Siri use the Iphone's GPS capabilities. Think of it as Onstar for Humans."

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